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Homicide Diary

Homicide Diary

April 17, 2014

Vol 22 • No 8

Read the print version

Homicide Diary: death on the streets of Little Rock, in the words of those who carry on

A history of violence.

POLICE: Shooting victim declared brain dead, charge against man upgraded to homicide

A woman found shot in the head on April 13 in Southwest Little Rock has been declared brain dead. The charge of a man arrested for Domestic Battery in the first degree in connection with the shooting have been upgraded to first degree Murder. The victim in that shooting is currently being kept alive on life support so her organs can be harvested in coming days.

Coming soon to a gallery near you

Name this Arkansas artist! No prize to be won, except the satisfaction that you recognized the work first, thus making you an Arkansas art maven.

Chad Griffin's role in getting Obama onboard with same-sex marriage

Sunday's New York Times magazine offers the first excerpt from Times reporter Jo Becker's "Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality," which hits bookstores on Tuesday. For four years, Becker was embedded with the team who worked to overturn California's Prop 8 and provided nearly unlimited access. Hope native Chad Griffin is featured prominently.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg investing $50 million in gun control campaign

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, is launching a $50 million campaign to support candidates favoring gun control. Bloomberg is attempting to push back on the influence of the National Rifle Association in 15 targeted states, including some hostile territory (Texas, Montana, Arizona). Arkansas is not among the targets, as far as I can tell from the press release. Bloomberg, of course, has targeted Sen. Mark Pryor in the past for his opposition to gun-control measures. Of course, in gun-happy Arkansas, Pryor took Bloomberg's criticism as a badge of honor. And the alternative to Pryor is Rep. Tom Cotton, who is, shall we say, not on board with Bloomberg's gun safety agenda.

Peak beard open line

Over to you.

Arkansas Lottery Commission embraces keno, monitor games

A day after the Arkansas Lottery Legislative Oversight Committee passed a motion against the lottery adding video monitor games, the Arkansas Lottery Commission today approved adding the games, which Lottery Director Bishop Woosley pitched as a way to reach to boost revenues for the flagging lottery. Who knows whether keno and such will turn around the lottery, but we do know that it'll mean more money for the lottery's largest vendor.

Obama foes hate success that made clinic obsolete

When the Mena Star reported that Ninth Street Ministries would close its free medical clinic for the uninsured this month because nearly everyone in the mountains and glens around the town had gotten insurance through Obamacare, the story went viral on the Internet.

Arkansas Earth Day at Heifer

Also, Mulehead at White Water Tavern.

Baseball Razorbacks still have time

After Arkansas's 2013 baseball campaign fizzled, and then the heavily scrutinized Todd Butler was awarded the Wichita State head coaching gig, it became a little hard to project what the 2014 squad would do.

What it's going to take to improve Arkansas

If Arkansas lawmakers don't start making decisions based on what's best for the future of the state's children, then that future won't be very bright. If the decisions our officials make continue to favor the wealthy of today rather than the workforce of tomorrow, Arkansas will continue to fall near the bottom when it comes to third-grade reading, graduation rates, college attendance and other indicators that, when good, make Arkansas a better place to build businesses, families and lives.

Weapon of choice

The voucher is to the new corporate cowboys what the Colt .45 was to the admirable Randolph Scott. Most often, vouchers are aimed at the public schools. Walmart is a huge backer of using school vouchers to knock down the public school system, perhaps figuring that with fewer public schools, there would be fewer of those informed consumers that corporations hate so.

Gangster

An Al Capone statue sits outside the Ohio Club in Hot Springs.

Slim margin could decide 2014 elections

'Money, Class and Opportunity'

Survey looks at perspectives on the middle class from blacks, whites and Hispanics.

The r-word

At the risk of angering somebody like MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry, I sometimes used to joke that I only look white. Actually, I'm Irish. Meaning basically that I wasn't raised to think the man in the big house had all the answers, nor deserved all the power he'd inherited.

Make plans to attend the second annual Arkansas Times Heritage Hog Roast

Pull some pork.

The ordeal

The Observer recently heard a story about the artist Carroll Cloar of Earle, Ark., whose strange and distinctly Southern paintings have inspired comparisons to Henri Rousseau and Faulkner.

We will run no race before it's ripe

"What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."

New Koch

There was a time when Randolph Scott's movies made more money than anybody's, but if he were around today he'd find the situation much changed. Randolph used to be the hero of the picture. Now, he and people like him — the lone warrior riding out for justice, defending the ladies and the little guys — those are the villains of the modern melodrama. The new hero is the giant corporation, buying lawmakers by the trainload, standing up to the consumers, environmentalists and government regulators, collecting huge profits and paying no taxes.

It was a good week for downtown Little Rock

It was also a good week for wasting state money, a longshot and digging for diamonds. It was a bad week for living in the wrong place downtown and Mike Huckabee.

Arkansas residents discover they can't stop pipeline from crossing their land

Photographer's project to put 'human face' on impact of planned Valero/Plains All American Pipeline project

Doe's forever

The Eat Place never disappoints.

Be warned

'The Raid 2' may be unlike anything you've seen before.

Left behind

This is in reply to Jay Barth's article in Arkansas Times regarding Hobby Lobby ("Hobby Lobby case affects more than just contraception," March 27). The way he lambasted Hobby Lobby almost breaks my heart. It shows how far away from God some people have strayed.

Adam Carroll plays White Water Tavern

Also, Paul Wall at Revolution, Record Store Day at Arkansas CD and Record Exchange, Brantley Gilbert at Verizon, Joyce Carol Oates at the Fayetteville Town Center, Chick Corea and Bela Fleck at UCA, Cirque du Soleil's 'Michael Jackson, The Immortal World Tour' and 'Alphaville' at Vino's.

The Beast cometh

The Beast is a tiny food trailer that has recently hit the streets of Little Rock. These folks are focused on bringing paleo-friendly foods to the growing throng of dieters accepting this lifestyle. And by the looks of it, they are being warmly embraced by this community—often selling out of food before the day is through.

Diamond watch: Arkansas man finds six-carat diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park

David Anderson, who moved to the Murfreesboro to hunt for gems at Crater of Diamonds State Park, found a 6.19-carat white diamond at the park. He named it "Limitless Diamond" and plans to sell it and donate the proceeds to the Speed of Light charity.

Handicapping the Pryor-Cotton race

For hardcore political junkies, I'll recommend this fivethirtyeight.com post taking a look at Senate races. Harry Enten's conclusion is that while Sen. Mark Pryor is polling strong of late, he nevertheless faces an uphill battle because, by Enten's estimate, Obama’s approval rating in Arkansas is somewhere between 30 percent and 33 percent . If you just look at the polls, Enten's model finds that the Pryor-Cotton race is a tossup, but when he used Obama's approval rating in his model, Pryor's chances fall to just 31 percent

Another poll shows Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton neck and neck

Continuing the recent trend, another poll finds a very close race between incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton. Jason Tolbert of Talk Business reports that Republican-leaning American Crossroads took a poll last week showing the race tied 39-39 with a whopping 22 percent undecided. The poll surveyed 522 likely voters and has a margin of error of 4.29 percent .

Actuaries predict smaller jump in health insurance premiums next year

One health care prediction you can be pretty much certain will come true: premiums will be higher next year than they were this year. That's not because of Obamacare. Premiums have been going up annually for a very long time. The big question for 2015 is not whether premiums will go up, but how much. Critics of the health care law have been predicting that they will skyrocket. USA Today reports on a projection from the Society of Actuaries suggesting that the increase may be slower than what we were seeing before Obamacare.

Gun giveaways in Republican primaries

The New York Times reports on a trend in Republican primaries: candidates offer up sweepstakes with a gun as the prize to attract interest —and collect personal data — from the GOP base. Local angle: See above an event last month for Curtis Coleman, running in the Republican primary for governor. "Look what we will give away at this Concert!! AR-15 & 100 Rounds of Ammunition." Somewhat awkwardly, this gun giveaway was at a middle school.

Arkansas Supreme Court denies petition asking Court to rule on law-license suspension kerfuffle

The Arkansas Supreme Court today denied the petition from Circuit Judge H.G. Foster asking the Court to settle the ongoing matter of what counts as a law-license suspension for judicial candidates once and for all.

Could Democrats hold or gain seats in the Senate?

Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics (an election forecaster who is sort of a right-of-center version of Nate Silver) writes today that though he believes the most likely outcome is that Republicans will retake the Senate, he believes the Democrats have a have a fighting chance to hold or even gain seats (though this would take everything going just right.

Charlie Fuqua returns, warns of Arkansas Republicans getting slimed

Former state legislator Charlie Fuqua is back, warning Republicans in a mass email that "the only people who ever get slimed are the good guys." You know, good guys like he and Jon Hubbard, whose 2012 campaigns for state legislature were derailed after the Times excerpted all sorts of really nutty things they'd written in the past.

This morning's discussion on race at Ron Robinson Theater

Interesting panel discussion this morning on race and ethnicity at the River Market's Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market. The discussion, titled "Money, Class and Opportunity," was held in conjunction with the release of UALR's 11th installment of their survey of racial attitudes in Pulaski County. The panel was moderated by State Sen. Joyce Elliott, with Maria Elena de Avila of the Arkansas Department of Career Education; State Rep. Fred Love; Heather Larkin, president and CEO of the Arkansas Community Foundation; Carmen Parks of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Terry Richard-Trevino of the League of Latin American Citizen and the UALR Dept of Anthropology and Sociology and State Rep. Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp. Topics up for discussion by the panel were wide ranging, from neighborhood blight to nutrition to the largely re-segregated state of some Little Rock schools. At one point, during a discussion on "It's almost a sport now to blame people for being poor...

Perfect storm shuts down state computers

State's data center loses power, shuts down for several hours.

Tom Cotton continues to avoid taking stance on private option

We've noted before that while Rep. Tom Cotton wants to repeal Obamacare (which would have the effect of ending the private option), he refuses to take a position on whether the state made the right decision in pursuing the private option policy, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase health insurance for low-income Arkansans. Cotton was asked about the private option by a constituent at a townhall event focused on health care in Waldron last Monday (no media was present; someone in attendance sent the Arkansas Blog an audio recording of the meeting).

Sotheby's recap: Did Walton buy another Washington painting?

The top sale at Sotheby's American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture auction yesterday was a 1784 painting of Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon, estimated to bring 

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant

Chelsea Clinton and Mark Mezvinsky to have first child.

Enrollment in Obamacare marketplaces hits 8 million

President Obama announced today that 8 million people have signed up for the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, including the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace (millions more have gained coverage via Medicaid expansion or via the law's provision allowing people under the age of 26 to stay on their parents' plan).

Watch 'The Act of Killing' and 'The Unknown Known' this weekend

It's a great weekend for documentaries. On Saturday, at the Ron Robinson Theater, there will be a screening of Joshua Oppenheimer's Oscar-nominated "The Act of Killing." Meanwhile, Errol Morris's latest, "The Unknown Known," will be screening at Market Street twice a day (at 1:45 and 6:45) through next Thursday.

Piazza to rule in two weeks on same-sex marriage lawsuit

A lengthy and sometimes moving hearing before Judge Chris Piazza today at the Pulaski County Courthouse, with the attorneys for the plaintiffs both sometimes choking back tears and they argued in favor of a motion for summary judgment in their challenge to Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage, with Pulaski Co. Judge Chris Piazza says he will rule in two weeks' time on a motion for summary judgment that could overturn Arkansas's ban on same-sex marriage.

One more thing about those judicial suspensions

For the 10s of you following the state judicial eligibility saga, a quick note about this morning Arkansas Democrat-Gazette story that led with the finding that nearly a third of sitting judges in the state have been suspended for not paying their bar dues since 2006: Aside from serving as further evidence that judges are slackers like the rest of it, the story didn't tell us much.

New Marketplace rule will impact all insurance carriers, not just Ambetter

I mentioned yesterday a new rule from the Arkansas Insurance Department that will help the Department of Human Services keep costs down for the private option in future years. The rule, included in a recently released bulletin to insurers from AID, requires that all carriers selling plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace in 2015 offer at least one Silver level plan which only covers the ten essential health benefits (EHBs) mandated by the law (plans are divided into metallic levels based on coverage, with Silver medium-level). Important clarification from officials at the Arkansas Insurance Department: Ambetter wasn’t the only plan which offered Silver-level plans with benefits beyond the EHB – all of the carriers did. In fact, there was only one plan on the entire Marketplace that was EHB-only in 2014, and as it happens, it was one offered by Ambetter.

Doozy open line

Phew. Long day. And it's not over. Your turn: the line is open....

Food Feedback Friday: So, Co, and Sol

So, now it’s your turn to feedback. Hope you’ve got some good things to share.

What's new at Newk's

Newk's opens its newest location in Midtown's Park Avenue shopping center with mixed results.

Unemployment rate falls to 6.9 percent

Arkansas's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in February, according to a new release from the Department of Workforce Services. February's rate was 7.1. The national rate for March was 6.7.

$500,000 bond set for Paragould OBGYN in video voyeurism case

A Paragould OBGYN accused of five counts of video voyeurism in a case in which a patient said he photographed her without her consent during an examination has seen his bond set at a half-million dollars. Dr. Paul Becton, Jr. 68, is currently being held in the Greene County Detention Center, and has been ordered to surrender his passport, have no contact with the alleged victim in the case, and to not travel outside the Second Judicial District without approval from the court if he bonds out of jail.

POLICE: Downtown Bank of America robbed this morning

The Bank of America on Capitol Avenue was robbed this morning around 9:30 a.m. The bank is on the ground floor of the Bank of America building at 200 W. Capitol. Police are on the scene, and LRPD spokesman Lt. Sidney Allen says detectives are looking at surveillance video to get a better description of the perpetrator.

Missing New Mexico girl found in Fort Smith

A 14-year-old girl who went missing in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March has been found in Fort Smith, with police saying she was in the company of a 26-year-old man who met online. Investigators with the U.S. Marshals Service followed a tip that Lacey DeWitt, 15, might be at a Target store at 4001 Phoenix Ave. in Fort Smith. Police found her there in the parking lot around 1:30 yesterday afternoon in the company of a New Jersey man named Robert Butler, 26.

New LOUPE tonight: LeeNora Parlor, Jerry Phillips, Becky Witsell

AETN's second set of films on Arkansas artists airs tonight on 6:30 p.m. and features a folk artist, an artist who works in graphite and a historical restoration artist.

New track from Arkansas Bo and Big Piph: 'Dem Shawts'

Here's the latest from Big Piph and Arkansas Bo (lately of FaceMob), "Dem Shawts," more or less in the classic tradition of 69 Boyz's "Daisy Dukes." Also check out Piph's latest tape, "The Calm," if you haven't already.

LRPD on the scene of two separate deaths this morning

Lt. Sidney Allen with the Little Rock Police Department reports the scant details available right now on two suspicious deaths that happened this morning in Little Rock, including a woman who police say stabbed her husband, and the death of a former Little Rock Police Officer who police say was involved in an altercation with an online blogger who'd written about him in the past.

How Tom Cotton talks when he talks about Obamacare

One challenge for Republicans running in 2014 is how to handle the fact that millions of people are gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare remains unpopular (although so does repeal) and Republican candidates hope to ride the anti-Obamacare wave to victory, particularly in a place like Obama-hating Arkansas. But as the law is implemented and people get signed up, Republicans face the awkward fact of the law's enrollment successes and the fact that ending the ACA means ending people's coverage. Let's take a look at how Tom Cotton is approaching the issue.

Little Rock Film Festival announces first round of 2014 lineup

The Little Rock Film Festival announced the first rounds of its 2014 Narrative and Documentary lineups this afternoon. The list includes the Sundance Special Jury Award-winning doc "The Overnighters," Shawn Christendon's "Before I Disappear" (starring Ron Perlman and Emmy Rossum, based on the 2013 Oscar-winning short), SXSW Audience Award winner "Big Significant Things," Sundance Directing Award-winner "The Case Against 8" and SXSW Grand Jury Award winner "Fort Tilden."

Obama administration delays Keystone pipeline process, extends review period

Laura Barron-Lopez at the Hill reports that sources say that the State Department will extend the review period for the Keystone XL pipeline, potentially pushing the decision back until after the midterm elections. Countdown to Sen. Mark Pryor grabbing the opportunity to put distance between himself and the president on this? Pryor recently joined ten other Senate Democrats in sending a letter to President Obama pushing him to approve the pipeline, asking for a decision by the end of May.

Home Plate Heroes, V.L. Cox, Sheila Cotton, Dolores Justus, Robyn Horn and more

At least three new exhibitions open tonight at Argenta ArtWalk, 5-8 p.m. in downtown North Little Rock.

Obama on the more than 5 million people left uninsured because states refused to expand Medicaid: "that's wrong"

At yesterday's press conference announcing that enrollment in the Obamacare marketplaces had hit 8 million, President Barack Obama declared victory. "This thing is working," he said, adding that "the repeal debate is and should be over." But he also struck an angry tone on one facet of the law that is not working as intended, because of the Supreme Court's decision in 2012 and the decisions of 24 states: 5.7 million people will be uninsured in 2016, according to the White House, in states that refuse to expand Medicaid. "You got 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now, at no cost to these states," Obama said. "That’s wrong.” He said that the states “have chosen not to expand Medicaid for no other reason than political spite.”

Mark Pryor campaign going after Tom Cotton on Medicare cuts

David Catanese has a story up today in U.S. News and World Report looking at Democratic candidates going after their Republican opponents for their support of the Ryan budget, accusing them of seeking to voucherize Medicare and cut benefits for seniors. This is the Dems' answer, Catanese writes, to Republican attacks on Obamacare. The article focuses on the race in Arkansas between incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, pointing out that five of the nine ads Pryor has run have attacked Cotton on Medicare.

Mark Pryor responds to Keystone delay (you'll never guess what he says)

Sen. Mark Pryor's office sent this statement: "When it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, there's no excuse for another delay. The President needs to approve this project now to ensure our future energy security and create jobs here at home."

The Health Care Wonkcast Edition

The latest in the Cotton vs. Pryor race, what 8 million enrolled in Obamacare marketplaces means, what higher than projected costs in the private option mean and the Arkansas Lottery Commission’s embrace of monitor-style games — all covered on this week's podcast.

Good Friday line

Open line.

Andy Mayberry wants to be your next, and last, lieutenant governor

Okay, I know it's kind of a gimmick, but he's right on the merits! His new commercial...

LRPD: Arrest made in murder of LRSD employee

The Little Rock Police Department announced this evening that they have made an arrest in the murder of Debbie Bush, 56, a Little Rock School District employee found dead in her Tatum Street home on Tuesday. Police say they have arrested Joe Wicker, 40, in the crime. After being interviewed by police detectives, police said, he was arrested and charged with Capital Murder. No word yet the connection between Bush and Wicker, if any.

Details from today's homicide on E. 7th St.

The Little Rock Police Department has issued an incident report detailing information about this morning's homicide at 224 E. 7th Street in which a woman allegedly stabbed her husband before attempting suicide by slashing her wrists. Police identified the victim as Kenneth Patterson, 61, and have identified Marilyn Patterson, 61, as a suspect in the crime.

Good morning Arkansas. The blogger returns with more thoughts on money's influence on judicial races

Max Brantley returns to the Arkansas Blog after a long vacation. Some thoughts on politics bubble to the top, along with a travel photo from Portugal.

Who should vote? Republicans have some ideas

The lawsuit over the Voter ID law aimed at further depressing voter turnout was filed while i was away and an e-mail blast from a Republican deeply involved in the effort got my attention last night. I think it unwittingly revealed the core of Republican motivation.

Good news-bad news open line: Strawberries and Republicans

A Republican gubernatorial debate and the arrival of Arkansas strawberries top the Saturday evening open line.

Hate in the Ozarks: A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center

Arkansas organizations are mentioned frequently in a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center on hate, patriot and militia group activity in 2013.

Resegregation in the South; article echoes in Arkansas

A major article on resegregation of Southern schools focuses on Tuscalaloosa, Ala. But it has many parallels in Little Rock and Arkansas. It's also an occasion to consider the influence of Walton billions in both Arkansas pubic schools and at the University of Arkansas and how their crusade for "choice" is contributing to this trend.

The open line: Perils of deregulation and religious roots of a new charter school leader

An article on coal industry politics in once Democratic West Virginia is a good lesson in the perils of light-handed environmental regulation and the practical impact of popular Republican campaign points.

In memory of Stockton Briggle

Director and producer Stockton Briggle passed away recently. He was a fixture in the Hot Springs cooking scene, offering demonstrations on food ranging from French to Indian to down-home goodness. He was an excellent cook, but even more important, he was an excellent friend.

Screening set on Robert Reich film on income inequality

A coalition of Arkansas groups plans a free screening May 1 of Robert Reich's documentary, "inequality for All," about the income inequality in the U.S. and how it shapes the economy.

Legal challenge planned on frackers' tax break

A lawsuit is in the works to challenge a new tax break for a fracking industry chemical supplier.

NRA endorses Ann Clemmer in 2nd District race

The National Rifle Association today endorsed state Rep. Ann Clemmer in the Republican primary race for 2nd District Congress.

Steely Dan coming to Arkansas this summer

Good morning. Did you know that Steely Dan will be playing at the Walmart AMP on July 24? That's true. Tickets will go on sale this Friday, the 25th at 9 a.m. and will range from $30-$100, which admittedly is a pretty wide price spectrum. To get these tickets, you can call 479-443-5600 or visit arkansasmusicpavilion.com

Charter school moved ahead with site purchase before vote

Though it still hasn't received state approval for the site, the operators of the proposed Quest charter middle school in West Little Rock have already purchased the property.

Fire closes Jim Dailey Fitness Center

An electrical fire damaged the sauna and portions of the locker rooms at the Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center.

Two deaths in motorcycle-car crash on Asher

Little Rock police say two people have died from injuries in a wreck shortly before midnight Thursday when their eastbound motorcycle collieded with a Cadillac turning left from the westbound lane of Asher Avenue onto Mabelvale Pike.

New Cotton ad plays the military card

Extremist Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton has a new TV ad playing — again — his military service card and hitting Democratic opponent Mark Pryor for an awkward remark about Cotton's military service. Cotton produces his drill sergeant to vouch for him.

Tuesday: Steve Weisenthal on the University of Chicago

Steve Weisenthal, senior vice president for facilities and university architect with the University of Chicago, will give a talk, "Architectural Heritage and Innovation," at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, at the Arkansas Arts Center.

Little Rock Film Festival announces opening night film: 'Happy Valley'

The Little Rock Film Festival is gearing up for its 2014 season, which will be held May 12-18. The Narrative, Documentary and Shorts competition lineups were announced last week, and this afternoon the festival unveiled its opening night film, "Happy Valley," by Amir Bar-Lev, the documentary filmmaker behind "My Kid Could Paint That" and "The Tillman Story."

New song from The Coasts, 'Us Against the World'

Little Rock's The Coasts, who recently signed to the Brooklyn-based Old Flame Records (alongside bands like Cloud Nothings and Dead Confederate), have a new album on the way next month (May 20), and recently premiered a song from the record, "Us Against the World," over at Impose. In their interview, the band namechecks Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen and claims the song is inspired by "Hey Jude."

Democrats file ethics complaint against GOP House candidate

The Arkansas Democratic Party's executive director, Candace Martin, today announced she had filed an ethics complaint against Republican state House candidate David Ray Wallace of Leachville over an apparent excess campaign contribution.

More than 150,000 have gained coverage under private option; DHS releases demographic information

Through March 31, 155,567 Arkansans have been deemed eligible and gained coverage under the private option, the state's unique plan which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. The Department of Human Services announced the latest enrollment figures today and also released some demographic information on enrollees, which continue to lean female and younger.

Pecan pie with Dawn Scott

Award-winning THV anchor and reporter Dawn Scott takes a break from bringing us the news in order to bring us a fantastic recipe for pecan pie.

Former pre-school teacher charged with rape

A former preschool teacher was arrested recently on a charge of raping a child left in his care. That arrest led to a round of State Police interviews last week at a preschool owned by a state legislator, but he said nothing improper was found to have occurred at the school.

Senior prank lands 'Calico Crazy 8' in hot water

The Baxter Bulletin reports that eight Calico Rock students have been suspended, banned from the prom and more for using a key to enter the school at night and move desks and chairs from a classroom to a hallway. Of course there's a Facebook page in support of the Calico Crazy 8.

Democrat notes Asa poll listed as campaign contribution. It kind of was.

A Democratic campaigner sees some funny business in Asa Hutchinson's campaign finance reports for March. A poll has an in-kind donation?

The Monday night line is open

The readers take over.

Maumelle neighborhood surprised by meth lab bust

Channel 4 reports that neighbors in a quiet Maumelle neighborhood were surprised Friday by a bust at a home apparently used to cook meth.

UPDATE — Common Core: Republicans again use a reviled president to work polarization magic

Times columnist Ernest Dumas this week explains roots of the growing controversy over Common Core school curriculum standards, yet another conservative Republican idea — like the shape of the Affordable Care Act — that Republicans have attacked by attaching President Obama's name to it.

Razorbacks roll out new uniforms that include a new Hog logo

The sports gabsites are buzzing with news from the University of Arkansas about the new Nike uniform designs for all Razorback sports teams. The new look includes a "secondary" Hog logo. The running Razorback lives but a forward-facing Hog will be a feature on all the uniforms.

Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream to open in Arcarde Building in the River Market

Kilwins Chocolates and Ice Cream has leased 1,200 square feet in the new Arcade Building in the River Market, on the corner, on the corner of President Clinton Avenue and the pedestrian alley next to Ron Robinson Theatre. Kilwins, a chain with more than 80 stores across the United States, will offer up fresh chocolate, fudge, corns, caramel apples, brittle, shakes, sundaes, gourmet coffee, smoothies and specialty drinks. This is the first franchise location in Arkansas — they're typically in tourist spots, so it should fit right in at the River Market. Maybe a post-movie shake after catching a flick at Ron Robinson will be what the doctor ordered .

Supreme Court upholds Michigan anti-affirmative action law

In a splintered decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed an appeals court that had struck down a state law banning race-based preferences (affirmative action) in admissions to Michigan colleges.

Montessori school chooses Main Street site

A Montessori school that hopes to eventually offer non-sectarian education from pre-school through high school has chosen Main Street, the Kress building at 610 Main, for the school .It will open for pre-K-4 grades this coming August.

Number crunching: Fight for control of U.S. Senate remains tight

The Upshot, the New York Times' successor to the departed 538 blog, reports improvement in Democratic chances to retain control of the Senate, in part thanks to positive developments in Arkansas. But not positive enough to make Pryor a favorite in the race.

AARP: Arkansans support law to reverse limit on age discrimination claims

AARP, the lobby for older people, says a poll last month of Arkansas registered voters found 81 percent approval of bipartisan Senate legislation aimed at reversing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it more difficult to sue over age discrimination in the workplace.

LRPD: Homicide last night, sixth in LR in past seven days

The Little Rock Police Department is seeking a man they say killed a 20-year-old at an apartment complex on North Bryant Street last night. The killing was the fifth homicide in Little Rock in the past seven days. Officers responded to the Park Heights Apartments at 1701 N. Bryant Street last night around 7:30 p.m. in response to a call about a person shot in the complex. On arrival, officers found Bernard Sherrod, 20, lying in the grass near an apartment building, with a gunshot wound to his right shoulder. Sherrod was transported by ambulance to UAMS, where he was pronounced dead.

Mud bugs and beer! Preservation Crustaceans benefits Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.

The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas hosts its annual crawfish boil fundraiser, Preservation Crustaceans, on May 1 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in North Little Rock's Argenta Historic District at 520 Main Street in North Little Rock. They'll have all-you-can-eat crawfish, shrimp, sausage and all the fixings, with all-you-can-drink beer (and kid-friendly beverages) included. Regular tickets are $45 with a $5 early-bird discount if purchased before April 24. Tickets for kids 9-17 are $10 and kids 8 and under eat for free.

UAMS names new head of myeloma center

UAMS announced today that Dr. Gareth Morgan, a British researcher, had been named director of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy. He succeeds founder Bart Barlogie.

Cotton assails farm bill before Farm Bureau

Odd Tom Cotton is nothing if not firm in his extremist principles. He assailed the farm bill in an appearance before the Arkansas Farm Bureau today. 

Dr. Robin Bowen named Arkansas Tech president

Dr. Robin Bowen was named today as president of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville. She's said to be the first woman to head a four-year public college in Arkansas. Hendrix College has had a woman president.

The Dogtown Grand Tour: Hobo Joe's

Growing up in the South, the first warm weekend means yellow pollen everywhere, an explosion of flower blooms and a trip to your favorite shaved ice stand. If you happen to live north of the river, that means Hobo Joe’s.

Injunction sought in voter ID lawsuit

A request for a preliminary injunction was filed today in the lawsuit challenging the state's new voter ID law as an unconstitutional impairment on the right to vote in Arkansas. The state Constitution prohibits new impairments and provides no power, as some other jurisdictions do, for legislative changes.

Enrollment in Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace at 44,665

Through yesterday, almost 45,000 Arkansans have selected plans on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, the new marketplace created by Obamacare, according to information released yesterday by the Arkansas Insurance Department (see county by county map above). Open enrollment is now closed, though people who submitted a paper application by April 7 have until the end of the month to enroll and pick a plan. We may also see this number creep up in the next few weeks as the carriers continue to receive data from the feds.

UPDATE: Sen. John Boozman responds 'well' to heart surgery

Sen. John Boozman underwent heart surgery in Rogers today and is reported to have responded "well" and in recovery.

Central High team a finalist in Siemens environmental challenge

A team from Little Rock Central High School was a national finalist in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages projects on environmental sustainability.

The Tuesday night line is open

The line opens with a gripe about the difficulty of buying a decongestant in Arkansas.

New song from Taylor Moon, 'Final Fantasy MMXIV'

I'm late to this one, but you should have a listen to "Final Fantasy MMXIV" by Little Rock's Taylor Moon, released earlier this month. It pairs a pretty simple, lovely melody with a beat that's all heavy low-end and erratic synth noodling. Mach Soul, a.k.a. Kaylan Marks, produced the track, along with Moon's "King Tut," from a couple of months ago.

More sad sushi...this time at Mt. Fuji

I continue to search for that Little Rock restaurant that will provide a sushi experience that will end my raw fish remorse, a place that will really stand out as an exceptional experience. Is there such a place in this land-locked state of ours? Only time and a lot of tasting will tell.

Republicans race to the right in primary contest for attorney general

The Republican primary race for attorney general is a sight, with each candidate endeavoring to step to the extreme right of the other. The U.S. Constitution gets trampled regularly in campaign pronouncements. And now one candidate has the American Bar Association in her crosshairs.

Treasurer candidates dodge and parry on private option question

Republican supporters of the private option expansion of Medicaid are trying to evade their record in voter surveys by a conservative group. At least one dedicated Obamacare foe is calling foul on treasurer candidate Duncan Baird as a result.

UPDATE: New poll gives Mark Pryor 10-point lead in Senate race; Asa-Ross 41-40

A new New York Times/Kaiser poll shows Mark Pryor with a 10-point lead over Tom Cotton in the race for U.S. Senate, plus solid numbers for Democrats in other swing states.

Homeless man charged in stabbing death

The Little Rock police have charged Leslie Webb, 30, a homeless man, with the stabbing death of Willie Taylor, 45, of North Little Rock who Webb said attacked him at his camp on North Street off Cantrell Road just east of the Episcopal Collegiate School campus.

Plaintiff explains his opposition to the Voter ID law

Barry Haas, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the new Voter ID law, explains his role in an interview with Equal Voice News. He says it discourages voting by placing a difficult and costly barrier between the ballot box and thousands of people without driver licenses or other approved forms of identification.

Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre announces 2014-15 season

In a press release sent out this morning, Children's Theatre artistic director Bradley Anderson said, "Our 2014-15 season has a diverse and innovative line-up of talented actors and compelling stories that reflect our continued tradition of bringing joy and laughter into the hearts of our audience." The season will kick off on September 17, with a production of "Go, Dog. Go!" that will run through October 5.

It's blogger bake sale time

Every year, local bloggers and artisans get together and hold a bake sale to benefit Share Our Strength's "No Kid Hungry" campaign. This year's event should be the biggest yet.

French Hill's wife takes questions: No private option lobbyist, she says

In a letter circulating in Hot Springs Village, congressional candidate French Hill's wife responds to criticism of him, including a charge that she lobbied for the private option Medicaid expansion. We wholeheartedly endorse her assertion that her husband is no liberal.

Splash pad added to Riverfront Park

City officials will gather Thursday morning in Riverfront Park to show off a new splash pad in the children's play area of Riverfront Park.

Georgia gets a 'guns everywhere' law

Georgia gets a "guns everywhere" law and it naturally raises the question of whether Arkansas may someday follow suit. Several gun issues are bubbling in Arkansas already.

Actuaries: private option costs on target after allowable adjustments

The Department of Human Services today released a letter from Optumas, the independent actuarial firm hired by the state to project private option costs, stating that the private option will not exceed the "budget neutrality caps" after adjustments are made to account for slight variations in the demographics of new beneficiaries. The population of private option beneficiaries has been about two years older than projected, according to Optumas, which has added about $24 per month to the average premium over the first four months of the program. If the state was able to adjust the caps to account for that (which the waiver specifically allows), the state would be safely below the limits of their budget neutrality agreement.

Report: Liberal groups got more scrutiny from IRS than Tea Party

The story line here is too well-established to be disturbed by something so trivial as facts. Just the same, Think Progress reports, based on FOI requests to the IRS, that the agency targeted progressive groups more often than Tea Party groups for political activity.

Wakarusa releases 2014 stage schedule

The 11th Annual Wakarusa Music Festival, set to be held at Mulberry Mountain in Northwest Arkansas June 5-8, has released its 2014 stage schedule, for those of you looking to plan your weekend out in advance. This year's event featured The Flaming Lips, BASSNECTAR, The String Cheese Incident, STS9, Dr. Dog and really just so many bands

Boozman responding well to surgery, staff reports

U.S. Sen. John Boozman's office reports he's responding well following heart surgery Tuesday in Rogers. His staff reported the emergency surgery was for an aortic dissection, or a tear in the aorta.

Democrats use private option to rally female base voters in Cotton-Pryor race

The Democratic Party of Arkansas tweeted out this message: "Over 155,000 of Arkansans now have private health insurance. Tom Cotton wants to take it away from them." They also highlighted the high percentage of women among private option beneficiaries, a group that Democrats will try very hard to motivate to turn out against Cotton.

Watch Adam Faucett and The Tall Grass live in Chicago (or tonight at White Water)

The Chicago-based in-studio concert series Audiotree Live recently hosted Little Rock's own Adam Faucett and the Tall Grass, and the result looks and sounds absolutely great — it's the ideal Adam Faucett set in some ways, expertly rendered with dynamic range and solid camerawork and A Tribe Called Quest t-shirts.

Hearing set on Voter ID injunction request

Jeff Priebe, attorney in the lawsuit challenging the state Voter ID law, tells me a hearing has been set on his request for a preliminary injunction at 1 p.m. Friday, May 2.

City manager announces seven finalists for Little Rock police chief

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore will include seven candidates to succeed retiring Police Chief Stuart Thomas, including one internal candidate, Assistant Chief Eric Higgins.

The Kochs-step-in-it open line

Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded lobby, has come under fire for altering a photograph taken after the Aurora, Colo., mass shooting for use in an attack ad on Sen. Mark Udall.

THEA Arts Festival is Saturday

The THEA Arts Festival once again takes over Argenta to present 30 artists, live music and hands-on activities for all, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Governor's Culinary Challenge is ready to seat you

The 2014 Governor's Culinary Challenge at the Capital Hotel: Finest chefs in town, signature cocktails, and scholarships for kids.

Why attacking Obamacare won't work

New York Times polling in Southern states, including Arkansas, shows a growing affection for Obamacare. Fix it, don't end it, is the majority sentiment. And that leaves the Just Say No to Obamacare crowd struggling.

New song from Kari Faux, 'Spanglish'

It's been a couple of month's since Kari Faux's "Spontaneous Generation," and she's been busy in the meantime — she played a well-received set at SXSW in March, where she was singled out by Complex and MSNBC, and now she's back with a new single, "Spanglish," with a beat by Mike Theory and a weird, Pablo Escobar cover.

"Array of Humanity": Angela Davis-Johnson exhibit opens today

The artist will give a talk at tonight's opening (5:30-9 p.m.); the two-day show benefits Art Connection.

Reception for Gayle Batson pottery show tonight

"Chrysalis" reception at Claytime in Argenta starts at 7 p.m.
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